UHC’s July Manager’s Tip: “The Customer is Always Right”

Statistic: 41% of hospitality workers report that one of the most stressful elements of their job is feeling like the customer always has to be right1.

Problem: “The Customer is Always Right”, as a motto, is often used when referring to customer interactions that put employees in a difficult position. While customer satisfaction is valuable and necessary, it does not have to come at the expense of an employee’s morale and dignity. In one study, 74% of respondents had experienced verbal abuse from a customer, and 62% said they did not feel taken care of by the industry2. Managers have an opportunity to minimize the stress of a situation by showing they value and respect teammate perspectives and experiences while still making the customer feel heard.

Solutions: Let the team know that you have their backs and demonstrate your support for their success as well as the business’.

  • Acknowledge the stress of the job and discuss policies and protocols that employees can take advantage of to support their success, such as taking brief breaks and reaching out to managers for support.
  • Start by assuming best intent; give your teammate the benefit of the doubt and hear them out while still attending to the customer’s needs.
  • Stay positive while speaking with the customer and avoid using negative language related to your team member.
  • If applicable, be honest with the customer about staffing shortages or other challenges.

Sample Language …

To employee: “That sounds like a tough situation. Can you explain what happened from your end? I would be happy to think it through with you.”

To customer: “I apologize for the misunderstanding. Let’s find a solution to make things right,” or “I understand, and I appreciate your patience. We’re all doing the best we can under the circumstances.”


1Creating a Culture of Support in the Workplace: A Best Practices Resource for Managers in the Hospitality Industry – Active Minds

2One in Five Hospitality Workers Suffer from Work-Related Severe Mental Health Issues – RSPH (2019)